She was accused of not cooperating with the Privilege Committee’s probe into a complaint against her
In an unprecedented move, the Rajasthan Assembly in a unanimous decision on Thursday sentenced a woman police officer to 30 days rigorous imprisonment for breach of privilege. Circle Inspector Ratna Gupta refused to cooperate and behaved rudely with members of a House committee when, in July 2010, they paid a surprise visit to the Gandhi Nagar police station here that she was then heading.
The Assembly’s Privilege Committee issued Ms. Gupta’s arrest order last year after its summons — sent thrice earlier — directing her to appear before it went unanswered. The Committee acted on a complaint of the Women & Child Welfare Committee.
The Privilege Committee, headed by Congress MLA Surendra Jadawat, tabled its report in the House on Tuesday. The House debated the report after the zero hour. The State Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police were present to provide relevant information.
While Mr. Jadawat affirmed that the sentence was passed after due process lasting three years, Leader of the Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said the verdict had strengthened the legislature’s position in the democracy.
“The sentence has sent across a message to the government functionaries and public [at large] that the legislature, which frames laws and lays down policies for governance, cannot be taken lightly. It plays a crucial role in the democratic set-up,” Mr. Kataria told reporters.
Ms. Gupta had last year challenged the Privilege Committee’s summons through a writ petition in the High Court, which issued notices to the Assembly Secretariat, leading to apprehensions that the matter would lead to a confrontation between the judiciary and the legislature. An all-party meeting later decided that the Assembly would not reply to the High Court’s notice.
The High Court’s Jaipur Bench disposed of the petition while giving liberty to Ms. Gupta to appear before the Assembly Secretary with her lawyer. However, she did not appear either before the Assembly Secretary or the Privilege Committee, despite orders for her arrest and production being issued to the DGP. Even the police failed to trace her and bring her to the Assembly.
Interestingly, a fresh case of breach of privilege was launched against the former Inspector-General of Police (Jaipur Range), B.L. Soni, for failing to turn up in the Assembly despite being summoned.
The matter was handed over to the Privilege Committee for further examination and action.